Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Media Use Survey Shows How Mobile Children Have Become

I read the results of an interesting survey done by Common Sense Media about media use in children up to age 8.  As the mother of an 8-year-old, I wanted to know how digital media access was changing for him. I wrote about the findings here and you can download the full results from Common Sense Media's site.

What I found is that my son has more access to mobile media now than he did two years ago. I also found that he spends less than the average child using mobile media and he spends less time watching television programming. But thanks to Minecraft, he spends more time on the computer and less time overall using educational apps. Ugh.

But muddled in all the numbers, there was another interesting tidbit. Despite an increase in access to tablet devices and smartphones, reading using an electronic device is still not as common an activity as, say, playing a game. Apparently, kids would still rather read a book in print, according to this study. Only 4% of the 60% who read or are read to every day do so on a mobile device.

eReaders are great, and it makes vacation reading a heck of a lot more portable. But it seems even kids know that nothing beats a book in print. On average, children were reading (or read to) about a half hour each day. But that was only 60% of the children surveyed. Forty percent read less than that, if at all. I cannot stress enough how important it is to read to your child. It not only provides an early boost to language development and reading skills, but it also gives parents a unique opportunity to bond with your child: books are a doorway into your world. What you read and how you read imparts how you see the world around you and when your child gets older, will choose books (or not) and see the world in a similar way.

In our increasingly mobile world, portable entertainment is what kids are after and education advocates are trying to keep up with "apps for that." I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more educational style games from places like Jumpstart and PBS Kids. In another two years, when more kids have access to mobile devices, there will be more "good" fun games to keep little ones occupied. But I hope these devices do not overtake the need to read!

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